One day, you wake up to find that your spouse has been so kind as to leave you breakfast all ready to go. The next day, in the place of a warm meal, you find a nasty gram. On day three, you find coffee made. Would you know what’s coming on day four?
When things change every day or in every situation, it’s impossible to know what to expect. Your kids feel that same way.
We all have bad days and days where we’re more tired – and by association, have less patience. We all have days where we need our kids to pitch in a bit more or days when things come up and we simply can’t follow routine. But through it all, part of our job as parents is to provide as much consistency and predictability to our children as we can. Much of that comes in the way of establishing routines.
Routines are the foundation of consistency; they help establish what “the norm” is. Without them, it’s just chaos and every day is a guessing game as to what to expect. Could you comfortably live within that or know your expected role? (Neither could your kids)
Start with an as-consistent-as-possible morning. Have the wake-up time be the same throughout the week. Following wake-up, have your kids get ready. Meet them downstairs for breakfast, followed by checking that bags and lunches are packed. After school, make a routine of snacks and homework time or extracurriculars followed by dinner and down time. Your routine will vary – no one can do the same thing the same way, every single day – but those changes should diverge from the same place so that you and your kids can fill in the gaps seamlessly.
Let your kids know what you expect from them so that they can meet your standards and succeed.
When they make bad choices, be consistent in how you react and in the repercussions that you set.
Offer them consistency in terms of a punishment and reward system. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative in doling out punishments that fit the crime, but it does mean that if you don’t punish for something on Tuesday that you can’t expect them to know that it’s wrong when they repeat the offense on Friday.
Your parenting will change, your routines will change, and your kids’ needs and challenges will change. You will adapt and you will make updates along the way – but that’s just it, changes should be made over the course of time; they shouldn’t be the constant state.
Kids thrive within structure and routine. By knowing what to expect and what your expectations are, they can better function and succeed within them. Consistency is our part of that give-and-take.
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